Chasing the Stripers

father daughter blog campground lakeI ❤ Arkansas campgrounds! Seriously, we have only found one Corp of Engineers’ campground in AR that we didn’t love. When I planned a guided striper fishing trip as a birthday present for Saint and our daughter, Tiffany, the guide wanted to meet at Rocky Branch Campground near Rogers. We usually camp at Beaver Dam Site when we fish on Beaver Lake, but E & C Striper Guide wanted us to meet him at 5 in the morning and it was an hour drive from Dam Site, so we decided to set up camp at Rocky Branch. We were glad we did. It was a lovely place. It was opening day, May 1, when we set up camp. Since it was our first time there, we drove through the camp looking for the perfect spot. We were amazed that no one had claimed that little peninsula already, as several of the campsites were filling up around it. It was such a beautiful spot on a point with water on three sides.

Finally, the weather seemed to cooperate for us to set up all our camping equipment…chairs, hammock, table, lantern, stove…even the canopy with the shabby chic lights I had made and never really gotten to enjoy.

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And we had time to hike and explore the site. We found an upper camping area with limited views of the water and lots of wild flowers, bluffs, and dogwood trees.

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The trouble started when we decided to drive the few miles into Rogers to pick up a few groceries I hadn’t packed. That’s when we discovered why the camp site was NOT already taken. The gentle breeze that we enjoyed while hiking turned into a gale. When we returned to the campsite, our brand new awning was on top of our camper, my new table was on the rocks with a glaring divot in the top, our lantern globe was beside it with a broken globe, and the tablecloth and place mats were dangerously close to drowning in the lake. Lesson: Never, ever leave your campsite on a windy day without putting the awning down. The metal arms had snapped and broken. We were fortunate that the fabric had not torn. Saint wondered if, had we secured it with anchor stakes, it might have been okay. The lady at the RV supply store said it would possibly have been worse. She said customers have reported that, when anchored, the winds catch it in the middle and snap it in half. Bottom line: If in doubt, roll up the awning. Fortunately, the salesman suggested something Saint had considered. Instead of buying replacement arms at about a hundred bucks, just cut off the broken part and re-rivet the arms. So, with a little ingenuity and a few bucks, Saint was able to restore it to a fully functioning awning…which gets rolled in when the winds come up!

Morning came early at 4 AM when Saint rolled out of bed, excited about this fishing trip. It came even earlier for Tiffany, her friend, Melissa, and her dad, who were driving to Rocky Branch from Fayetteville, but everyone made it on time. My job was to stay at camp and prepare breakfast for the fishermen/women.

I can’t seem to get the open fire cooking down to a science. Sometimes things work, sometimes they don’t, but this gave me time to try something I’d seen on Pinterest and wanted to try. YES! Yes, you can cook bacon over the open fire on a sharpened stick, or in this case, a hot dog roaster.

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It was not all success, though. The egg casserole that I had made over the open fire before, did not adapt well to the fire I tried to keep going for the four or five hours of fishing. It burned on the bottom. And I didn’t do all the bacon on a stick. 🙂 I fried 2 pounds of bacon, fried hashbrowns, and made gravy and biscuits while the troop fished. I added the freshly baked WalMart muffins and fresh fruit.

I could see the father/daughter combos on the boat in the distance, and they shouted on their way in so I’d have everything ready. They sent a few pictures of their catches during their time on the water.

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They didn’t catch the BIG one, but they had a great time with lots of laughs. And how often to you get a guide whose wife bakes you homemade chocolate chip cookies? Ed, with E&C Striper, made every effort to accommodate this crew. Making memories.

And, I think they enjoyed coming in to a campfire breakfast with stories to tell…seeing Uranus.

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God’s handiwork…wonderful people, beautiful campsite, spectacular sunsets. What could be better?

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Organizing in Your RV or Camping Trailer

I am always on the hunt for organizational ideas for our camping trailer. My latest find… total cost = $4 + tax. Yep, for the price of a gourmet coffee, you can save yourself  a bit of precious space, time, and effort. Here are the four items I purchased at the Dollar Tree for a buck apiece.

1. Drying Mat

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This works better for me than a plastic rack. It takes up very little space on a counter or a sink shelf, dries quickly, and can be folded and put away in the linen cabinet or drawer. Honestly, I don’t use my stove inside the camper much because we like to cook outside, so I usually just place this on the stove burners. The vented shelf over the burners helps it dry even quicker.

2. A lightweight plastic coated hanger shelf

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This comes with small screws, but is so lightweight that it could be hung with industrial strength velcro strips, depending upon what you are hanging on it. Hung by the door, it is great for keys, note pads, jewelry, pocket sized flashlights, and any other things you want to grab as you go out.

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In the kitchen, it can hold utensils behind the stove, pot holders, tea towels and dish cloths.

Bathroom towels, damp socks, and other items from the bath and bedroom can be hung up, as well.

3. Mesh Laundry Basket

Look at this! It just pops right up.

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It starts out flat, and returns to the flat position when you are finished. The amount of space it takes up is completely minimal. I just spray it off with Lysol and store it in the linen cabinet with the towels and sheets; so much better than the black plastic trash bag that would begin to smell after a few days. The mesh allows things to continue to dry thoroughly and breathe. It has ribbon handles and is not the sturdiest piece of equipment you will find, but it will last an entire camping season for us.

4.Aluminum pans with lids.

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Admittedly, I don’t usually buy foil pans. I save them from graham cracker pie crusts. I’m all about freebies, reuse, and upcycle. Foil pans are a staple for camping. They stack, are lightweight, can be washed and used again, and I don’t feel badly about crumpling one up when it has been charred or would be too hard to clean and using it to clean the grill grates. I only buy them (three for a dollar) when I need the lids. Sometimes I cook things that need a bit more stability than a foil packet and find these to be more economical and a little more environmentally friendly than using an entire roll of foil.

Make a trip to your local Dollar Tree and let me know what you find that makes your life easier on the road or at the campgrounds. They have plastic egg protectors, covered bowls and storage containers of all sizes, clotheslines and clothespins, candles, in addition to my four faves.

Right now, it is 20 degrees outside. Planning and organizing for our next adventure keeps my mood in check. Happy camping!

Another Freecycle (or two) for Your RV

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STOP! DO NOT throw this plastic heap in the trash when there are millions tons so many ways to use them. Especially if you are a camper.

I usually have several of these around the house because I fold wad them up and stash them in the closet to reuse. Yesterday, I found some that were perfect for our camping trailer. One was small, having housed a couple of sheer curtain panels, and it had two inner “flaps” where the cardboard pictures of the curtains had been inserted. It was the perfect size to hold all our important camper papers that were previously strewn stuffed loosely in a cabinet. It had plenty of space for the owner’s manual, cooling/heating unit warranty and replacement part brochure, microwave and stove pamphlet, and all the other magazine type folders containing essential information should anything fall apart break go wrong. One inner flap holds receipts, the other secures extra fuses, batteries, screws, etc.

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Everything you need to know about your RV in one handy-dandy bag, and it’s free! Best of all, look at this! It all fits compactly in the BOTTOM of one of my closet drawers, leaving room for pj’s or underwear on top.

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Yay!

Next, on to bigger and better bags. Comforter and blanket bags are also perfect for your camper. I dislike leaving my pillows uncovered in our trailer when we are not using it. I simply wad fold the pillows into the bag. Two will fit inside most of the bags. Before zipping, I sometimes add another freebie. Remember those annoying, stiff pages in magazines that advertise a fragrance? Rip them out!

Cut the sticky strip off, open it up, and place it in the bottom of your pillow bag. When you open the bag and take your pillows out on your next trip, you will smile! Makes you want to lie down and take a little nap, right then and there. If I don’t have a freebie, I use a dab of Tea Tree Essential Oil on a cotton ball placed in a corner of the bag. I’m told this keeps the dust mites away, but I have not researched that. I do know that it smells heavenly.

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Perfect! Now all I need is a road trip.